21 Jul Argentina’s 2008 Olympic males’s soccer champions: The place are they now?
4 years after their first triumph on the summer season video games in Athens in 2004, the Albiceleste despatched a very formidable squad to defend their title in 2008. Argentina’s Beijing Olympic roster was verging on the ridiculous because the younger Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero and Angel Di Maria all took half alongside comparatively older heads akin to Juan Roman Riquelme and Javier Mascherano.
As per Olympic selection guidelines, every nation needed to submit a squad of 18 gamers beneath the age of 23, with a most of three “over-age” gamers, plus an elective 19th slot for an additional goalkeeper if required.
As such, Argentina coach Sergio Batista chosen a 19-man group for the competitors, with a single objective from Di Maria within the last on the Nationwide Stadium (also referred to as the “Chook’s Nest”) in Beijing sufficient to safe back-to-back gold medals.
The place are all of the members of that victorious squad now? Properly, it is humorous it is best to ask…
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GK: Oscar Ustari
Age at time of selection: 22
Caps/targets at time of selection: 1/0
Membership: Getafe, Spain
A promising expertise on the time who received the FIFA U-20 World Cup alongside Aguero and shut buddy Messi in 2005, Ustari started the Olympic marketing campaign as first-choice for Argentina however a nasty cruciate ligament harm suffered in opposition to Netherlands within the quarterfinals cruelly robbed him of a spot in the remainder of the match and the subsequent eight months of his profession. “Osky” finally returned however harm woes continued to blight the subsequent few years, finally seeing his tenure with Getafe come to an abrupt finish in 2012 after a second cruciate rupture led to a different prolonged layoff. After stints with Boca Juniors, Newell’s Outdated Boys and — considerably bizarrely — Sunderland, the 35-year-old is now enjoying for Pachuca within the Mexican high flight.
Membership: AZ Alkmaar, Netherlands
Romero took over as first-choice following Ustari’s harm and did not look again, turning into the most-capped goalkeeper in Argentina’s historical past. Over the course of his report 96 worldwide appearances, Romero has performed at two World Cups (2010 and 2014) and three Copa Americas (2011, 2015 and 2016). Throughout these tournaments he performed in three finals, however misplaced all of them regardless of not conceding a objective within the preliminary 90 minutes in any of them. He missed out on the 2018 World Cup by harm, though it was coach Jorge Sampaoli’s determination to drop him. Previous to his launch this summer season, the 34-year-old spent six seasons at Manchester United the place he supplied strong back-up for David De Gea whereas successful an FA Cup and the Europa League.
GK: Nicolas Navarro
Membership: Napoli, Italy
Navarro wasn’t a part of the unique squad however was referred to as in as a reserve in the course of the Olympics on account of Ustari’s harm. The 36-year-old had been plying his commerce in Argentina with Arsenal de Sarandi till this week, when he introduced his retirement from a profession that additionally included spells in Turkey and Mexico.
DF: Ezequiel Garay
Membership: Actual Madrid, Spain
The gifted centre-back had solely simply signed for Actual when he was referred to as as much as Argentina’s Olympic squad, however then subsequently struggled to make a lot progress upon his return to the Bernabeu. Spells with Benfica, Zenit St Petersburg and Valencia adopted however a stream of accidents hampered Garay’s profession. Aged simply 34, the defender introduced his retirement from skilled football earlier this month after being with out a membership for a full yr, stating that he would really feel “dishonest” about taking a wage when he was barely ever match.
DF: Fabian Monzon
Membership: Boca Juniors, Argentina
The left-back made the leap to European football shortly after successful gold on the 2008 Olympics by signing for Actual Betis on a season-long mortgage from Boca. Monzon went on to play for Good and Lyon in France, then Catania in Italy earlier than returning to South America with Chilean aspect Universidad. The 34-year-old defender has since moved again to Argentina, the place he’s nonetheless enjoying for Primera Division outfit Membership Atletico Tucuman.
DF: Pablo Zabaleta
Membership: Espanyol, Spain
Zabaleta signed for Manchester Metropolis straight after the 2008 Olympics, making his debut the month after successful gold with Argentina. Within the 9 years that adopted, the right-back performed an integral half in Metropolis’s transformation from Premier League also-rans to heavyweight contenders, successful two league titles and proving to be a well-liked determine amongst followers. The defender then spent three seasons at West Ham earlier than retiring from football altogether after 18 years in October 2020.
Membership: Sevilla, Spain
After establishing himself at Sevilla, Fazio moved to the Premier League with Tottenham Hotspur in 2014. Fazio began as he meant to go on at Spurs by getting despatched off on his league debut (for a foul on compatriot Sergio Aguero) in a 4-1 defeat in opposition to Manchester Metropolis. The centre-back endured a troublesome time in London and his Spurs profession step by step petered out with successive loans — first again to Sevilla after which to Roma, for whom he signed on a everlasting foundation in 2017 and reinvigorated his profession.
DF: Nicolas Pareja
Membership: Anderlecht, Belgium
Pareja solely ever received one senior cap with the Argentina nationwide aspect, however his membership profession was altogether extra spectacular. After enjoying round Europe with Espanyol and Spartak Moscow, the centre-back was at Sevilla because the Spanish aspect received two of their three consecutive Europa League titles between 2014 and 2016. Now aged 37, Pareja has since retired.
MF: Fernando Gago
Membership: Actual Madrid, Spain
As soon as the crown prince of deep-lying midfielders, Gago noticed what was presupposed to be a glittering profession scuttled by common harm points. He mustered fewer than 40 appearances between 2016 and 2019. Comparable issues stymied spells with Roma and Valencia earlier than he returned house with Boca Juniors in 2013. Gago rejoined Velez Sarsfield for the 2019-20 season earlier than bowing out from football aged 34 the next summer season, only a few weeks after Zabaleta had additionally introduced his retirement. In January, he moved into teaching, taking cost of Argentine top-flight membership Aldosivi.
MF: Ever Banega
Membership: Valencia, Spain
Banega had been at Valencia for simply six months earlier than being chosen as a part of Argentina’s 2008 Olympic squad. The teen went on to change into some of the sought-after combative midfielders in Europe, enjoying for Atletico Madrid, Inter Milan and Sevilla — the place he received a hat trick of Europa Leagues. Lately, the 33-year-old might be discovered enjoying within the Saudi Arabian high flight with Al-Shabab.
MF: Javier Mascherano
Membership: Liverpool, England
Mascherano was already some of the skilled members of the squad by the point the 2008 Olympics rolled round. In spite of everything, this was a man who made his senior worldwide debut as a 19-year-old earlier than enjoying a single minute of first-team membership football. Following spells in England with West Ham and Liverpool, the utility man went on to change into some of the adorned gamers on this planet at Barcelona, successful 19 trophies in his eight years there. Mascherano then noticed out his lengthy and distinguished profession at Hebei China Fortune and Estudiantes earlier than retiring in 2020, and hung up his boots as Argentina’s second most-capped participant with 147 senior appearances.
MF: Juan Roman Riquelme
Membership: Boca Juniors, Argentina
The oldest member of the squad, Boca legend Riquelme served as elder statesman and captain for Argentina in Beijing. The silky playmaker scored a penalty within the 3-Zero win over Brazil within the semis — a objective which proved to be his final for the nationwide aspect. He retired from worldwide obligation two months after the gold medal match. Riquelme performed on at membership degree till January 2015 earlier than deciding to name it quits on the age of 36, regardless of mulling over a profitable short-term contract supply from Paraguayan membership Cerro Porteno. “I’ve determined to now not play football,” he stated on the time. “Now I’m only a fan. I’ll go and undergo within the stadium.” Riquelme is now again within the sport in an official capability, as vice-president at Boca.
Membership: Bayern Munich, Germany
Sosa has had a nomadic profession since his involvement within the 2008 Olympics, enjoying for Bayern, Napoli, Metalist Kharkiv, Atletico Madrid, Besiktas, AC Milan and Trabzonspor. Aged 36, he is nonetheless going robust in Turkey having signed for Fenerbache in 2020.
MF: Diego Buonanotte
Membership: River Plate, Argentina
Buonanotte solely made one look on the 2008 Olympics however he did mark it by scoring an outstanding long-range free kick in opposition to Serbia in Argentina’s third group-stage sport. Sadly, a horrible tragedy befell the winger in December 2009 when he was the only survivor of a deadly automotive crash in Argentina. He was in a position to return to the pitch and remains to be enjoying with Chilean membership Universidad Catolica on the age of 33.
FW: Angel Di Maria
Membership: Benfica, Portugal
That younger, wispy lad is now a a lot older, wispy veteran, however Di Maria has greater than proved his price for Argentina over time. Having been the match-winner within the 2008 gold medal match, the 33-year-old winger repeated the feat in 2021 by scoring the one objective within the Copa America last in opposition to Brazil — due to this fact securing his nation’s first main worldwide match honours for 28 years. At membership degree, he capped off his 4 years at Actual Madrid by being named Man of the Match of their 2014 Champions League last victory, sealing the membership’s longed-for 10th European crown – “La Decima.” A £60m transfer to Manchester United that summer season lasted only one yr, earlier than he joined Paris Saint-Germain the place he has received 17 trophies thus far and reached the 2020 Champions League last.
FW: Ezequiel Lavezzi
Membership: Napoli. Italy
As some of the coveted attacking abilities in Europe, Lavezzi left Napoli in 2012 to hitch PSG, who had been flush with money and in search of to rework themselves into a significant drive. The Argentine, who arrived in Paris in the identical transfer window as Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva, lasted three-and-a-half seasons in Ligue 1 earlier than transferring to the Chinese language Tremendous League with Hebei China Fortune in 2016, turning into the highest-paid footballer on the planet within the course of earlier than retiring in 2019.
FW: Lautaro Atacosta
Membership: Sevilla, Spain
After breaking out as a teenage sensation at boyhood membership Lanus, Acosta moved to Europe with Sevilla in 2008 solely to get sidelined by a critical harm nearly instantly. Loans at Racing Santander and Boca Juniors adopted however all that early promise by no means fairly got here to fruition, and Acosta returned house to Lanus in 2013. Now aged 33, he is nonetheless on the books on the Primera Division aspect although made simply 13 appearances final season, scoring as soon as.
FW: Sergio Aguero
Membership: Atletico Madrid, Spain
After forging his repute at Atletico within the three years that adopted the 2008 Olympics, Aguero determined to hitch Manchester Metropolis in a bid to take the subsequent step. What adopted was a decade of spectacular success because the membership received 5 Premier League titles, fuelled partly by Aguero’s prolific ending. His stoppage-time objective on the ultimate day of the 2011-12 season to land Metropolis their first Premier League title stays one of many English sport’s most iconic moments. All in all, Aguero discovered the online 260 occasions for Metropolis, turning into the membership’s all-time report objective scorer. After ending as a runner-up to Chelsea within the 2020-21 Champions League last, the 33-year-old signed as a free agent for Barcelona.
FW: Lionel Messi
Membership: Barcelona, Spain
If Barca had their means, Messi would not have taken half within the 2008 Olympics in any respect with the membership adamant they did not need their younger star lacking out on preseason coaching so as to journey to China. In actual fact, it was new head coach Pep Guardiola who finally pushed for Messi to participate within the Video games, within the curiosity of permitting the participant to achieve expertise and hold him comfortable.
“He [Guardiola] was the one who gave me the permission,” Messi recalled throughout an interview with Estudio Futbol in 2019. “I do not forget that we had been within the preseason in Italy and after a pleasant match in opposition to Fiorentina, he grabbed me and stated: ‘You wish to go, do not you?’ I stated, ‘sure,’ and he replied: ‘Properly, I am going to offer you permission and the one situation is that somebody from the membership will accompany you and comply with you in every single place.’ I instructed him that that wasn’t an issue, so long as I may go!”
Messi scored Argentina’s first objective of the competitors in a 2-1 win over the Ivory Coast of their opening group sport, earlier than notching a second in opposition to Netherlands within the quarters. He then went on to win the primary of his six Ballon d’Ors the next yr after serving to Barcelona to win a Treble of La Liga, Copa del Rey and Champions League titles. Nonetheless at Barcelona all these years later, Messi has received 34 trophies at membership degree and this summer season captained his nationwide team to their Copa America triumph.